ALEC Representatives Recognized for Scholarship, Research at Conference

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By: Caitlin Powers

Representatives from the ALEC department traveled to Orlando, Fla. to participate in the Southern Region Conference of the American Association for Agricultural Education. At the conference, nine ALEC faculty and six graduate assistants actively took part in advancing the field of agricultural education by delivering presentations and presenting research papers and posters, garnering recognition for their achievement.

Held in conjunction with the Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists annual meeting, The SR-AAAE conference is an opportunity for faculty and staff to connect and share.

Professor and Associate Department Head Tim Murphy, Ph.D., was selected by the current president of SR-AAAE as the Distinguished Mystery Speaker at the Southern Association of Agricultural Sciences AAAE banquet.

The mystery speaker delivers a distinguished lecture to attendees on a perspective they see as important to the profession looking back on their career, Murphy explained.

“[It is] quite an honor to bring comments to your profession,” Murphy said.

During Murphy’s lecture he discussed the importance and role of programs in agricultural leadership, education and communications.

“[We need to have] relevant programs to connect our programs to the community,” Murphy said.

Murphy explained the research and teaching done in the field needs to connect back to the community and create social benefits.

Just as Murphy encouraged others to connect back to the community, ALEC representatives from Texas A&M, sought to share research with the community.

“[We] share research and ideas with colleagues across the region,” Rayfield said.

Graduate assistant in the department M’Randa Sandlin stated that the main process by which information is shared is through displaying and presenting research papers and posters.

“It is great to present my own research,” Sandlin said, “but nice to see what others are doing as well.”

Sandlin said that it is important to share what everyone is doing.

“This type of community allows us to network, collaborate, and build off of the successes and suggestion of our colleagues,” Sandlin said.

In addition to networking and sharing knowledge, the conference recognized distinguished efforts in research and scholarship.

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Sandlin, Assistant Professor Theresa Murphrey, Ph. D., Professor James Lindner, Ph.D., and Professor Kim Dooley, Ph.D. were awarded the First Runner- up Research Presentation Award.

Graduate Assistant Erynne Treptow and Murphy, were recognized as a Distinguished Innovative Poster Presentation.

Graduate Assistant William Doss, Assistant Professor Roger Hanagriff, Ph.D., and Assistant Professor John Rayfield, Ed.D., were recognized as a Distinguished Research Poster Presentation.

Graduate Assistant Travis Irby and Assistant Professor Robert Strong, Ph.D. were awarded the Distinguished Research Poster Award.

The research poster and papers presented at the conference were products of joint cooperation between the faculty and graduate assistants who attended.

Rayfield was named the Outstanding Young Member for his exemplary teaching, significant research, scholarly writing and exemplary service in the agriculture education field. It was a very humbling experience Rayfield said.

“I try not to take credit much because [there are] a lot of outstanding people who helped me get there,” Rayfield said.

Rayfield accredited his success to his colleagues and mentors from North Carolina State, where he first taught for three years, Texas Tech University, where he received his Ed.D., and many others.

Rayfield said a benefit to attending the conference is the opportunity it provides for graduate students in the department.

“It is a great venue to get graduate students involved in the research process,” Rayfield said.

It allows faculty to show graduate students the department’s expectations of graduate students attending and being active participants at the conference Rayfield said.

Treptow said attending the conference benefitted her because most of what she has been exposed to is the classroom side of being a graduate student.

“By doing an innovative poster I came up with the idea, I decided how to lay it out and do the research,” Treptow said. “It allowed me to share my innovative idea.”

ALEC representatives had a definite presence at the conference through their research and recognized achievements.

“In the end, we are helping to advance the field of agricultural education,” Sandlin said.

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Texas A&M will host the 2014 SR-AAAE conference in Dallas, Texas, next February.

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